Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Living Legend

By Elmer Lyle Jones

I was born June 7, 1920 Ottawa County, Kansas and nearly departed this world June 6, 1942 in the deep, deep water of the Pacific Ocean after the Battle of Midway.

I was the last of four children and my mother died when I was just six years old; my oldest sister was twelve. Believe me we were dirt poor. I heard a man say they were as poor as church mice and I told him that was nothing, the church mice brought us care packages. But, my father managed to keep us together and got us through high school during the terrible depression and horrible dust storms.

After graduating high school in Minneapolis, Kansas, there was not much to look forward to in the future. The economy had picked up a little by 1939 but not much. One of my classmates told me he heard I was a pretty good tractor driver and of course, not being the bashful type, I told him I was the best. He said his dad told him if I would help them harvest the wheat I could stay and help with the plowing and reseeding the next crop. That sounded real good, but the last day of harvest the old man told me that he and his son talked it over and they guessed they could put the wheat in by themselves.

Instead, when I got to town, I went right in and signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Dad was not too pleased when I told him about it. In less than a week, I was in the C.C.C. camp at Marysville, Kansas. I wish to state right here, that was one of the most hard-working organizations I was ever connected with and I really enjoyed it. One day my barracks mate was reading the local paper and looked at me and said,"Jones, the Navy recruiting officer will be here next Thursday.  Let’s go down and join.”  Now, I only weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. I had never even seen a body of water bigger than the county lake.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Searching for the Lost

By Logistics Specialist 1st Class Sean Le
I’m originally from Vietnam and my family migrated to the States when I was 12.
After I graduated high school, I decided to join the Navy.  I wanted to see the world and explore many great things abroad.  Almost 11 years later, I’m still in the Navy.
In February of 2012, I was excited to be given an opportunity to go back to Vietnam as an Individual Augmentee. They needed a Vietnamese linguist to help translate, and I guess my name came up on a list because they contacted the command and interviewed me. I passed the interview and showed them that I was suitable for this mission.
I had been back before to visit but this time it was quite different. This time I arrived as a U.S. military service member with a mission to bring someone home. Therefore, there are things you can discuss, and things you have to keep to yourself. We had a week-long training course in Pearl Harbor to learn about Vietnamese culture and customs, and the site we would be working at. We had to learn what to expect, what to look for in the ground, and what to do in each type of situation. We learned how to deal with the Vietnamese people and government, and different scenarios we might’ve encountered. We also learned about the rules and regulations that were put out such as not riding a scooter out on the street.
After training, we flew to Vietnam in a C-17 (military plane).  I wasn’t expecting a 16-hour flight with everyone lying on the floor because the seats were too small and uncomfortable.  It was very loud and cold on the plane but somehow I still managed to pass out.  Finally we arrived in Danang, Vietnam where we met our Vietnamese officials. We went to the warehouse and received our equipment, loaded them on to the trucks, and then we went to the site. The site was really far from Danang. We had to take a flight into Ho Chi Minh City and from there we got a vehicle and drove three hours outside the city to the site. The drive was extremely bumpy. Only some of the roads are paved because you’re not in the city anymore. We were heading toward the Cambodian border and it’s not very modern over there. A lot of it is countryside. It’s not built up like Ho Chi Minh City. It was really bad. Some people actually threw up in the vehicle going out there.